Success Stories

County Schools Launches Inaugural State Seal of Biliteracy Virtual Ceremony

June 17, 2022

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools hosted its first annual countywide virtual ceremony to honor and recognize all high school graduates who were candidates to receive the California State Seal of Biliteracy. These were students who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages, in addition to English.

SBCSS 2021 Seal of Biliteracy Virtual Event Video
Certificates Qualifying Candidates received at the California State Seal of Biliteracy Virtual Ceremony

In the past, candidates for the California State Seal of Biliteracy were honored at the end of the school year, but County Superintendent Ted Alejandre recognized the importance for high school seniors to include this accomplishment on their college applications. This ceremony allowed seniors to show they are on track to receive the State Seal of Biliteracy. It is a method for universities to recognize and give academic credit to applicants.

“These students have accomplished an incredible feat. It is not easy to achieve the rigorous state criteria and prove they can be proficient and literate in another language,” said County Superintendent Ted Alejandre. “That’s why I wanted to ensure that our students’ efforts and hard work are recognized, and recognized in a way that can benefit their future.”

“I’m really excited for this opportunity. The fact that I can put on my resume that I speak three languages, it’s such an advantage,” said Gabriela Gravina, a senior at Redlands High School. “Four years ago, I could only speak Portuguese. Now I can speak Portuguese, English and Spanish. I had a lot of teachers who helped me throughout the years.”

Gravina was one of the students who was recognized at Saturday’s virtual ceremony. 

Benefits of Multilingualism

The State Seal of Biliteracy program began in January 2012. California is a pioneer for multilingualism, and now, San Bernardino County is too.

 “This virtual ceremony is a celebration to honor our students who are candidates to receive the California State Seal of Biliteracy, said Angelica Hurtado, a program manager for Multilingual Education at the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. “This is a great opportunity as it will add value to students and give them an advantage by adding this achievement on their college applications! Being multilingual is a celebration!”

 County Superintendent Alejandre has also approved purchasing language assessments for school districts within the county, so every senior candidate studying a second or third language has a chance to qualify for the California State Seal of Biliteracy.

 “I was able to give the test to 46 students, and 40 of them passed. It’s not only the languages we teach here. Now, we can expand it with the Avant Assessments to test all the other languages,” said Rosalba Schessler, EL Support teacher at Redlands High School. “To see the kids come with no English and graduate fully bilingual, that’s huge! I’m an English learner myself, so I know what they’re going through. I know what it feels like, so to be able to see them excel and to cross that line of finally dreaming in English, it’s important.”